Ken Williams | Contributing Editor
Dog park will be first facility to open
A dog park is scheduled to open next month at Civita Park, the 17-acre public space in Mission Valley that has been under construction since 2015.
The pooch park will have two fenced-in areas, one for larger canines and another for smaller dogs.
Pets will be able to play off-leash on grass, rather than typical dog-park surfaces such as decomposed granite, wood chips or dirt, said Mark K. Radelow, vice president and senior project manager for Sudberry Properties. Sudberry is the developer of Civita, the master planned community that stretches from Mission Center Road on the west to Interstate 805 on the east, and north of Friars Road to Serra Mesa on the summit.
The dog park is located near the crest of the Civita community, and close to the intersection of Via Alta and Franklin Ridge Road. In another piece of news, Radelow said the paving of Franklin Ridge Road should begin later this month and be completed by year’s end.
Meanwhile, the dog park will be the first part of Phase 4 of Civita Park to open to the public.
From the dog park, a pedestrian tunnel under Via Alta leads to the top of a large, man-made waterfall, which has already been built. There, an overlook provides a spectacular view of the vast Civita development and the public park that will eventually become the heart of the community. Steps lead down to the park and the beginning of a trail system that will wind throughout the development.
To date, most of the existing housing units has been built on the west side of the park, which is starting to take shape. While construction is running months behind schedule, Radelow expects Civita Park to open in 2017, either in March or April.
On Oct. 17, Radelow gave a hard-hat tour to Mission Valley News to show the work that is already under way at Civita Park.
Much of the early focus has been on installing the park’s infrastructure, such as underground electrical wires, and water and sewer pipes.
Concrete sidewalks and steps are being poured, and lighting poles are going into the ground.
Fences, foot bridges and retention walls constructed of stones and mortar — which Radelow said are inspired by the area’s historic Mission-era dams — have been built along the dry creek, which leads from the waterfall down the hill to a large retention area near Civita Boulevard and Russell Parkway. For most of the year, the creek will be dry except during the rainy season. In total, Radelow said, about 150 acres drain into Civita.
Phase 1 is under way
The lower portion of Civita Park, referred to as Phase 1, will feature an elevated outdoor amphitheater with low concrete walls for seating and a grassy knoll, which combined will accommodate up to 1,500 people for concerts, shows and other public gatherings.
Between the amphitheater and Civita Boulevard will be a 1,000-foot-long “living shade structure” modeled after a similar feature at a park in Brisbane, Australia. Radelow said flowering vines such as bougainvillea and wisteria would grow on cables over large trellis structures to provide shade. The space could be used for many things, such as a rest area or a place for a weekly farmers’ market.
Nearby, a comfort station featuring restrooms with changing areas and showers has been constructed next to a parking lot, under which is a 2.3-acre-feet reservoir to capture runoff water. Below that is a water fountain that will use runoff pressure to create a “jet” effect.
In the future, an 8,000-square-foot Civic Center will be built near this site. This will include a River Park Foundation museum to highlight the history of Mission Valley and the nearby San Diego River.
Also part of Phase 1 will be a large central plaza that Radelow described as the “urban core,” featuring a hardscape instead of grass. Celebration Plaza will have rose gardens, a military memorial, a 100-foot flagpole, benches and concrete couches, and a game area for playing chess, table tennis and basketball.
A community garden will be set up for the public. Radelow said he will locate a vintage 1957 Porsche diesel tractor on the site, for kids to enjoy and for photo opportunities.
Children will also be attracted to an interactive water feature, which Radelow described as a “fountain and splash pad” costing $1 million. The recirculating fountain will have 45 jets, each individually lit.
“Kids will be able to run through it,” he said, noting that the fountain will have a disinfectant system. “We will be able to do shows and to program the lighting.”
Radelow emphasized that Sudberry is sensitive to California’s drought issues, which is why the company is using a water recirculation system. “We’re doing this in a confined area,” he said, “and we think it’s for the good of the community.”
Visitors to Civita Park — which will be turned over to the city of San Diego after the project is finished — will be able to climb “grand steps” for about a quarter of a mile from Civita Boulevard all the way up the hill to the waterfall. The park’s elevation rises over 165 feet. The wide path is also being marked to help the disabled.
Social nodes, which provide shade and resting areas, will be placed along the path so that visitors can follow their own pace.
Phase 4, which is the upper part of Civita Park, will include passive parkland and a Recreation Center, which will limit its membership exclusively to property owners. The center will have both indoor and outdoor pools.
Pedestrians from Serra Mesa will have access to Civita Park, Radelow said.
Other phases of Civita Park will bring additional children’s play areas, a picnic grove, scenic lookouts, more restrooms, a plaza displaying equipment from the area’s past as a mining quarry, and interpretive gardens based on colors, scents and attractions for bees and butterflies.
By the time Civita Park is finished, each community in the 230-acre urban village will have “finger parks,” totaling 10 acres, that lead directly to the park.
“The whole idea,” Radelow said, “is about connectivity: living, work and play.”
To learn more about Civita Park, visit civitalife.com.
—Ken Williams is a contributing editor of Mission Valley News and can be reached at email@example.com or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.